This is the type of article where you have to bring in your personal experience. It’s almost stereotypical that I, as a writer will also lead the double-life of being a procrastinator. Especially when you work for yourself or from home there is no one checking up on your work.
For some, time management is as natural as breathing. But for me, it is something that I’m still trying to master. The irony, however, is that I’m not a lazy worker – when I do get in the zone it’s almost impossible to get me out. So I had to find some ways to improve how I manage my time so that I could make the most of my workload and productivity during the work week.
Here are some of my tips for avoiding procrastination:
1. Create Visual Reminders
Recently, I’ve found that I’m a person that is highly stimulated by visuals. If I have a goal, but I don’t see it in front of me, I would end up ignoring it. Visual reminders can be anything from motivational posters to colorful to-do lists. In my case, I have a daily to-do list next to my workspace and then I also pen in my daily tasks in my diary. Apart from that I also view loads and loads of motivational quotes, sayings and images during my chill-time.
2. Plan Ahead of Time
If you want to steer clear of your serial procrastination habits you have to plan ahead. Without structure, you will be opening up loads of gaps for you to lose yourself in. What works for me is to plan out my entire day the night before. This is also something that I started with quite recently. Having an hourly schedule will give you a goal to chase and it won’t allow you to pretend that the task can be done later, or wasn’t even there to begin with.
3. Avoid Checking Your Emails and Social Media
This is one of the toughest habits to break. When you work for yourself you might feel like your email and social media channels are your only windows to the outside world. I find myself constantly checking my phone for messages and my email for ‘urgent’ messages. The truth is if it was that urgent – people will choose a different way to contact you. In order to really focus on the task at hand, you need to limit your distractions.
If you aren’t that good at avoiding temptation you can make use of Internet blocking productivity software such as Self Control and Freedom to prevent you from opening up particular websites during your work hours.
4. The 2-Minute Rule
I’ve read an article by James Clear on using the 2-minute rule to prevent procrastination. Basically, it comes down to two things:
1. If the task at hand takes less than two minutes to complete; do it immediately.
2. The start of good habits will follow when you START by doing it for 2 minutes at a time.
Many times I've found myself procrastinating, just because I haven't started yet. Sometimes just casually researching a topic for a few minutes leads to me developing arguments and creating drafts without knowing it. It’s a matter of starting a good habit and just jump-starting the productivity process.
5. Forget About Being Perfect
Many procrastinators tend to be perfectionists. This might not always be the case, but it would be exceedingly difficult for a perfectionist to start and even finish a task if they know it cannot be done perfectly.
Failure is part of your success story and you have to allow yourself to make mistakes in order to grow. Don’t put things off because you are afraid of failing or being less than perfect. At the end of the day, it would be better to be judged for what you did do than to be forgotten because you did nothing.
With the idea of ‘perfection’ also ties in perfectly with the excuses you make for not completing your tasks. Waiting for the perfect moment, story, idea or telephone call is just another way of avoiding what you have to do. Create your own opportunities and try to fail as much as possible.
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Anneke Steenkamp is a Freelance Writer at The Joy of Unemployment. When she’s not typing away at client content she’s perfecting her Facebook stalking skills and spending time with her pet dog, Zoey.